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Gun charges frequently arise when houses and vehicles are searched during drug investigations. Domestic assault allegations also commonly give rise to firearms charges. In other cases, law-abiding firearm owners may unwittingly run a foul of the complicated firearms regulation regime in Canada.

Severe Penalties for Gun Offences

Gun offences are treated harshly in Canada. In general, offences involving handguns or fully-automatic firearms carry severe penalties. Using a gun (or imitation gun) in the commission of an offence carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence. Many other gun offences carry mandatory minimum jail sentences as well

Bail and Gun Offences

The Crown almost always opposes bail in cases involving firearms. The Criminal Code places the onus on the accused to show why he should be released on bail for many firearm offences.

Our Success Stories – Firearms and Weapons Offences

M Mark was found not guilty of possessing a handgun. His co-accused was convicted at a separate trial. At Mark’s trial, however, the victim admitted under cross-examination that he had no experience with guns and could not say whether the gun was real.

J Jackson was an American trucker who was charged with possessing a loaded prohibited handgun after crossing the border into Canada. The offence can carry a 3-year mandatory jail sentence. Brett McGarry persuaded the judge to impose an absolute discharge. As a result, Jackson can still truck goods into Canada.

F Frank was charged with possession of restricted and prohibited handguns as a result of a large police drug project. Frank was released from jail after a lengthy bail hearing.

  • Types of Gun Charges

    Firearms are regulated in Canada by the Criminal Code, Firearms Act (and regulations), and to a much lesser degree by the Explosives Act. There are many gun related offences, including:

    • Use of firearm in commission of an offence
    • Possession of a loaded restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition
    • Possession of a firearm without holding a license and registration certificate
    • Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence
    • Prohibited weapons charges
    • Pointing a firearm
    • Replica firearms charges
    • Contravention of the storage and transportation regulations
    • Being an occupant of a motor vehicle with a handgun
    • Carrying a firearm in a careless manner
    • Carrying a concealed weapon
    • Possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace
    • Breaching a weapons or firearms prohibition order
    • Weapons trafficking

    Defending Gun Charges

    If you have been charged with a gun offence in Ottawa, the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be key to providing you with a proper defence.  If the police obtained the guns with an unconstitutional search or seizure, the evidence may be excluded at trial. In many cases it will be unclear who owned or possessed the gun which is the subject of the charge.  If the police find a gun hidden in a house or a car, for example, it may be difficult to prove who “possessed” the gun.  In these situations it is important to retain counsel before dealing with the police. (You do not have be physically holding a gun to be in possession of one.  Click here to read the Criminal Code definition of “possession”.) The Crown may need to call expert evidence to prove that the alleged firearm meets the statutory definition of a “firearm”, “prohibited firearm”, “restricted firearm”, etc. In Ottawa, the Crown generally relies on experts from the Ottawa Police Guns and Gangs Unit or the Ontario Provincial Police Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit. These experts and their opinions must be carefully scrutinized and subjected to cross-examination.

    Firearms and Guns Ottawa defence

    Brett McGarry Criminal Law
    200 Elgin Street, Suite 800 Ottawa, Ontario , Canada K2P 1L5
    Phone: 613-884-8576 URL of Map